10 Simple Presentation Tips for Professionals

by Tim Clukey

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6. Avoid Reading to your audience

  • Do not put ALL of your text/content/speech on the screen and reading it to your audience!
  • Text should ONLY display the highlights/headlines of your content, giving YOU the floor to explain/describe the details.
  • If you have important, lengthy text that must be used verbatim, put it in a handout -- don't put it on the screen. (If it's that important, your audience should probably have a copy/printout.)

7. Avoid Cartoon-Style Animations and Sound Effects

  • Cartoon-style animations & sound effects are too distracting and detract from the content/presentation (and they're just plain annoying).
  • Animations and sound effects slow your presentation down and they get old very fast. Avoid them.
  • Simple text animations (e.g. fly-ins) and slide transitions are okay to use provided they are simple and not distracting (use a consistent style - don't vary them).

8. Avoid Altering the Natural Proportions of Images/Photos

  • When using images/photos, keep (constrain) the natural proportions/layouts.
  • Some images are wide (landscape style layout) while some are tall (portrait style layout). Don't turn one style into another by simply altering the sides, top, or bottom.
  • Altering the natural proportions of an image 'squishes' the image, making something (or someone) look 'cartoonishly' thin or flat.
  • Most software allows you to properly alter the size of an image by holding down the *SHIFT* key and dragging one of the corners. [See samples below]
  • If this doesn't seem to work, use a photo editing program to properly crop/resize the image and include this version in your presentation.


9. Avoid the 'Too Many's'

  • Avoid using sound effects.
  • Avoid using too many colors, backgrounds.
  • Avoid using bright colors (like bright red text on a bright green background (See Tip #2). This makes it difficult to read and causes eye strain.
  • Avoid using too many different fonts/type sizes.
  • Avoid using too many different types of transitions.
  • Avoid using too much clip art and flash graphics (see Tip #7).
  • Avoid hitting the spacebar/mouse button so hard that you can hear it in the next room when you're transitioning to the next slide.
  • Avoid using too many slides (aka "PowerPoint Poisoning").

10. Avoid Projecting Slides When the Focus is on YOU

  • When you need the audience's undivided attention to discuss an important point/topic/issue, shut off the slide (temporarily).
  • Many podium/presentation controllers have a Mute button that will allow you to "go to black" on the screen. Pressing it a second time will return you to your current slide.
  • Some presentation software allows you to "go to black" by simply pressing the letter 'B' key on the keyboard. Pressing it a second time will return you to your current slide.
  • Some programs also allow you to press the 'W' key to get a blank, white screen - but this is usually too bright, distracting, and may cause eye strain for your audience.
  • There's one other suggestion that can be helpful. After your "Title" slide, include a slide that gives a quick overview of your presentation - so your audience knows what to expect.



[_] Good Use of Images (overall)[_] Avoided Too Much Text Per Screen
[_] Effective Image on Title Slide [_] Avoided Too Much Text Per Bullet
[_] Included Overview Slide [_] Avoided Animations
[_] Good Contrast Text/Background [_] Avoided Sound Effects
[_] Good Use of Font Choices [_] Avoided Unnatural Image Alterations
[_] Good Use of Font Sizes (28 points or >) [_] Avoided Too Much Clip Art
[_] 6 Bulleted Items Max per Page [_] Avoided Too Many Colors
[_] 7-8 words per Bullet (Max) [_] Avoided Too Many Fonts/Sizes
[_] One Bullet Revealed at a Time [_] Avoided Too Many Transitions
[_] Checked Spelling [_] Avoided Flash Graphics
[_] Re-Checked Spelling [_] Avoided Conflicting Colors/Styles
[_] Identified Focal Points / Slides Off [_] Avoided Too Many Slides


Thanks for reading, hope you have many, many successful presentations!

Tim Clukey


      Tim Clukey


Tim Clukey has been teaching digital media courses for over 14 years at the Plattsburgh State University Communications Studies Department in Plattsburgh, NY. He also completes digital audio archival restoration work for SUNY Plattsburgh's Special Collection Library. His digital archive work on the Marjorie Lansing Porter Collection is stored at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage in Washington, DC.
      Visit Tim in the Communications Department where you'll find an array of excellent careers in the field of Communications


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